Table of contents:
- Why President Zhivkov sought to annex Bulgaria to the mighty USSR
- Attempt is not torture: how many times Bulgaria applied for merger with the USSR
- What did the "cunning people from Sofia" do to win the hearts of tourists from the USSR
- Why Khrushchev and Brezhnev did not want to give Bulgaria a chance to become the 16th republic of the USSR
XX century - the time of the dominance of the Soviet Union on the world stage. The USSR was the most powerful power, so it is not surprising that smaller and weaker states were very interested in its patronage. The country, which repeatedly tried to make this dream a reality, becoming the sixteenth republic, was a kindred, as it was thought, Bulgaria.
Why President Zhivkov sought to annex Bulgaria to the mighty USSR
Historically, the People's Republic of Bulgaria was the closest socialist camp country to the Soviet Union. Fraternal relations originated during the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878, when Russia took on the mission of liberating Balkan Christians from the Turks. The USSR, Russia's successor, also provided invaluable assistance to the friendly power. These are subsidies to agriculture, supplies at low prices of oil (some of which the Bulgarians resold to the West for foreign currency), and a significant contribution to the development of the food, light, nuclear and oil refining industries, and the provision of a large-scale sales market (suffice it to say that in terms of volume exported goods Bulgaria became the third foreign trade partner of the USSR). Under the influence of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party ruling in the NRB brought the country into a socialist trade community - the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact organization - a military bloc headed by the USSR.
Undoubtedly, the leadership of the NRB realized all the benefits of the opportunity to become on the economic balance of the USSR. But the desire to merge with the "elder brother" was also dictated by political motives, namely, the desire of the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party Todor Zhivkov to head the state for many years. He managed to hold out in power for a long time, methodically pushing back other contenders to the "throne". However, he could feel calm only with the assistance of Moscow. With the support of his party comrades, the Bulgarian leader began persistently promoting the doctrine of "total integration" with the Soviet Union.
Attempt is not torture: how many times Bulgaria applied for merger with the USSR
The accession of the NRB to the Soviet Union became the lifelong affair of the Bulgarian leader Zhivkov. For the first time, an official discussion of the phased entry of Bulgaria into the USSR was carried out at the plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the NRB in 1963. Then a plan was developed to transform Bulgaria into one of the republics of the Soviet Union. Having made a responsible political decision, the Bulgarian side raised the issue of economic and political merger before the Soviet leadership. Nikita Khrushchev, the then General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, did not reject this initiative in principle. However, he realized that Zhivkov was clearly driven by pragmatism, about which he gently, in a joking manner, made it clear to the Bulgarian leader. During a personal meeting, Nikita Sergeevich said that he understands the desire of the Bulgarians, who are lagging behind in meat consumption per capita, to raise this indicator at the expense of the USSR, and called the Bulgarian elite "cunning from Sofia."
And yet the Bulgarian leader did not deviate from the chosen path. Ten years later, after a failed attempt to come to an agreement with Khrushchev, he sent a repeated petition to the Kremlin, this time to the current Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev. This time Todor Zhivkov conducted more thorough preparation than before. The appeal to Moscow was preceded by a plenum of the Central Committee of the BCP. One document was discussed at it - on the main directions of the development of all-round cooperation with the USSR. The issues raised at the plenum were related to the economic, political and cultural spheres. As in 1963, Zhivkov insisted on the secrecy of the meeting and the inexpediency of publishing the materials under discussion, that is, acquainting the entire party and the general public with them. The unanimous decision of the Central Committee of the BCP to approve the above document was attached to the request sent to Brezhnev. A new attempt to develop the idea of all-round rapprochement up to state-political unification also turned out to be unsuccessful.
What did the "cunning people from Sofia" do to win the hearts of tourists from the USSR
Zhivkov's associates, trying to support their leader, developed various plans for rapprochement between the Soviet Union and Bulgaria. Luchezar Avramov, a member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the NRB, who has repeatedly stated that turning his native country into a particle of the great USSR is the dream of several generations of Bulgarian communists, suggested using the tourism business for this purpose.
At that time, Sunny Beach and Golden Sands were practically the only resort abroad for the Soviet people. Who has not dreamed of visiting abroad, seeing other countries? In the era of the Iron Curtain, our compatriots could visit only Bulgaria without hassle - both with an excursion and for recreation. The state monopoly in the provision of tour operator services was the Balkantourist company. According to Avramov's plan, ordinary citizens could provide substantial assistance to the tour operator. The main idea of this project is to increase residential areas for the settlement of tourists from the USSR. It is necessary to make sure that in the holiday season in every Bulgarian house there is a place for at least one Soviet family. To help urban and rural homeowners improve their living conditions or expand the floor space, a system of public lending should have been developed on favorable terms for the landlords.
Why Khrushchev and Brezhnev did not want to give Bulgaria a chance to become the 16th republic of the USSR
There are several reasons that prevented Bulgaria from becoming a full-fledged member of the Soviet Union. Firstly, any society is heterogeneous, therefore, the reaction of citizens of each of the parties, even in the case of the peaceful accession of one state to another, will be ambiguous. This factor was especially important after the Second World War, when the Baltic States and Western Ukraine became the territorial acquisitions of the USSR. A similar situation with Bulgaria was capable of exacerbating an already difficult internal political situation. In addition, such a step would significantly complicate relations with Greece and Turkey, and, consequently, with NATO, of which they were members. The West could well interpret the annexation of Bulgaria as an aggression on the part of the Soviets. Also important was the absence of a common border between the USSR and the NRB.
Anyway, the feat of Russian soldiers in the liberation of Bulgaria from the Turks is still remembered there.